Eric Schneider has returned to the content marketing space he helped pioneer, taking a role as head of St. Joseph Communications’ newly established content marketing agency, Tag3.
Announcing the creation of the new business unit last week, St. Joseph’s executive chairman and CEO Tony Gagliano noted that content marketing is a multi-billion dollar industry in North America, and a “significant component” of today’s marketing strategies.
“Content marketing has always been in my blood,” said Schneider, who departed TC Media’s custom content division Totem Brand Stories in August 2012, four years after selling the company he established as Redwood Custom Communications in 1998 to the Quebec-based media company.
“I ultimately knew my entrepreneurial spirit was stifled, and it was time to move on,” said Schneider, who was part of an exodus of former senior Redwood staffers who left the TC Media division that year.
After leaving Totem, Schneider’s combined background in finance and marketing led him to explore several avenues before ultimately returning to the content space. In 2013 he spent several months working with Venture Communications CEO and Dragon’s Den star Arlene Dickinson on a contract basis, helping re-launch her entrepreneur-focused website YouInc.com.
Schneider and Gagliano have a longstanding business relationship dating back to the former’s work with Redwood (“there was a lot of mutual respect,” says Schneider) and the two men had several conversations leading up to the creation of Tag3.
“Ultimately I came back to a world that I’m comfortable in: relationships, reputation and a sense of vision for the category,” said Schneider, whose LinkedIn profile lists his position at Tag3 as “chief enabler.”
Schneider said there won’t be much overlap between Tag3 and St. Joseph’s media brands, which include Toronto Life and Fashion. He did say, however, that the new division would work closely with the printing and publishing company’s Content Group.
“Story-telling is a key component of content marketing,” said Schneider. “But the reality is that there’s a much greater connection to the content group, which is focused on areas such as flyers, catalogues and in-store displays.”
The company said that Tag3 plans to pursue content agency of record relationships with its clients. Its key pillars will include strategic planning, creative direction, production and technology integration, with a specific focus on the use and organization of content in clients’ communications channels.
Asked how St. Joseph plans to make Tag3 a distinct entrant in the growing content marketing space, Schneider said it would focus on what he described as “content marketing 3.0,” which will establish a greater connection between storytelling and promotion and transaction.
A consumer looking to stock up on groceries, for example, should not only receive a focused offer, but contextual information about how certain products could be used. “It’s really about making sure there are topics to the products and services,” he said. “Many consumers aren’t thinking about a product, they’re thinking about solving some sort of a problem, like ‘I don’t know what to do for dinner tonight.’ That problem should be solved with inspirational storytelling-type content that should be connected to promotion and transaction.”
Despite St. Joseph’s extensive experience in the print world, Schneider said that Tag3 would be a primarily digital venture.
“This is a digital business, but I believe there’s a critical role for print to play in a digital era, as part of the omni-channel opportunity,” he said. “You can have extended experiences between print and mobile, but ultimately the optimal experience will be in digital, where we can create fairly high-tuned contextual referencing between forms of content.”